Day 551 [April 6/10] -- Turning west ... and a mystery is solved

Today's Report
April 6/10 0800 JST

17°03'S, 77°15'W (South Pacific Ocean, 1,427 nm from Valdivia / 1,881 nm to Equator)

Saito-san made an unusual, off-schedule call yesterday a bit after noon. We're used to bad news when that happens. This time, though, he was delighted. "I called just to say that I'm in Peru! Not Chile!" he announced with a glee that came clearly through the broken Iridium signal. We told him congratulations and agreed that it's a huge relief to be finally finished with that chapter (several, actually) of his circumnavigation.

Within a few hours a brightly orange helicopter flew observantly past and one can only imagine that it was the Chilean Coast Guard making doubly sure they have seen the last of him, although it may have been a welcome by the good folks of Peru.

In any case, he's now beginning to turn more westward and gradually away from land, as he heads more in the direction of Japan and home.

Yesterday he cut off the tangled genoa sheet, replacing it with a spare, and was also able to re-rig the main with a new 1-point reefing line. So he is back to fully using the sails, although the winds were so weak yesterday that he resorted to low engine rpms to help his progress.

We learned something new yesterday, taking even Saito-san by surprise.

It turns out that the Humboldt Current, one of the world's most powerful ocean streams, basically goes on holiday during this time of the year. On previous voyages Saito-san remembered a strong and persistent northerly current at 1 kt speed. We have been surprised to find, over the last week, that the currents were highly variable in direction, and rarely were over 0.3 kts, as shown on ClearPoint and judged by actual observation.

A closer reading of Wikipedia indicates that the "free ride" on the Humboldt Express up the Chilean coast is closed for the fall and winter months.

It reads: "[The] upwelling occurs off Peru year-round but off Chile only during the spring and summer, because of the displacement of the subtropical center of high pressure during the summer." The Southern hemisphere is now about mid-fall.

Oh, ok ... mystery solved!
Distance in last 24 hours: 103 nm
Distance completed: 18,924 nm
To Yokohama: 9,346 nm (distance remaining: 33.1%)
Heading: 300
Reported boat speed: 3.5 kt (day's average: 4.7 kt)
Weather: Overcast 
Temperature: 22.3° C
Barometer: 1014 hPa (rise)
Wind (from): Favorable 8-9 kt SE -- expected to stay 8-9 kt ESE in 13 hr & SSE in 19 hrs
Waves: 2.5 m
Current (from): 0.2 kt S
Engine rpms: 6.0 hrs @1500
Generator: 7.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 1-pt reef

Position Map (click to enlarge)